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Old 01-29-2001, 10:03 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Jesus and germ theory

Hello, all;

I was reading through the newsletter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation ( over the weekend...there was an interesting article about the WWJD movement. It pointed out the many things that Jesus did and said that were not particularly admirable.

Something that caught my eye and made me think was the bit about how Jesus, the supposed 'Son of God' and therefore creator of the universe, treated disease by 'casting out demons' in many instances. Does this make sense?

I looked into it further, and came across the following Bible verse, Matthew 15:20 "These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man".

Here is an example of how the story of Jesus as the 'son of God' seems so ludicrously unbelievable to someone from outside the group of 'believers'. Let me explain...

We are often asked by Christians something like "what evidence WOULD help you to believe the story of Christianity?" Well, it seems to me that if this Jesus character were really the omnipotent creator of the universe, wouldn't he drop some good hints during his earthly visit? In other words, might he not only do some miracles that convince the current audience, but also drop some mysterious quotes and references that, when read 2000 years later, would make a modern scientist say 'ah ha, he knew about bacteria causing disease!"

Instead, Jesus picks the ONE Jewish law, about washing hands before eating, as his example of what NOT to do. Sure, Christians will say that he was just making the point about the Pharisees paying more attention to the letter of the law than the spirit of the law.

But why this one law? If he had picked any OTHER law, then the propensity of Europeans throughout the Middle Ages to NOT wash before eating might not have occurred. And the horrible deaths of millions of people due to septic conditions and the subsequent spread of disease might have been avoided.

So rather than dropping hints for the future potential converts to his new religion, Jesus instead picks apart a Jewish law that has a really good *modern* reason to exist. And in the process, shows us freethinkers that this Jesus/Yeshua character really was JUST a product of his time; an itinerant Jewish preacher who thought that 'casting out demons' was the proper way to cure disease.

Makes you think, doesn't it?



Old 01-29-2001, 06:16 PM   #2
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Thumbs up

An apropos snip from a different thread about the agreement between science and the Bible:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">originally posted by a_theistnotatheist:
...Leviticus is a good book to go to to see the "quarantines" of the diseased etc. and how the intelligence behind it was one who had an understanding of germs(which were not discovered for thousands of years). THere are those who followed the Levitical laws of purity during the Black Plague who experienced far less death and disease. Also those that follow the Law of Moses aren't about to get AIDS and numerous other diseases because of sexual purity...</font>
My response was the fact that germs weren't discovered until relatively recently proves that the Bible provides no clue to the existence of microscopic lifeforms. Hell, the Bible doesn't even recognize plants as being alive.

You've pointed out another problem -- that Christians (such as those during the "Black Death") should have followed Jesus' advice to not wash their hands. Indeed, many did. The concept of sanitation is a relatively modern one. And do we have the Bible to thank for such wondrous, enlightened ideas? Hell no.
Old 02-01-2001, 07:34 AM   #3
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I liked your statement that Jesus should have dropped some clue in the text that revealed a deeper more complete understanding of a topic than was available at the time. I think this is a general problem with the bible in that there is nothing of this sort. Everything in it is limited to the knowledge of mankind during that time period. In fact the tendancy that we see in the bible is that the comments made DISAGREE with what we know today.

[This message has been edited by dmvprof (edited February 01, 2001).]
Old 02-01-2001, 01:21 PM   #4
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I think Jesus has dropped a clue recognizable to only modern science, though I don't think he did it intentionally. We're evaluating its legitamacy on the thread entitled Modern optometry solidifies biblical miracle.

As to the matter at hand, are you speaking about the fits that resemble epilepsy as healing by casting out demons?

The Jews did not make hand washing laws to help retard the spread of disease. They made hand washing laws a few years before the birth of Jesus in order to retard Jew and Gentile contact. Jewish halakic code attempted to make the Jew loath the gentile of his time. Even today, if you shake hands with a religious Jew, see how long before he makes his way to a water fountian. Jesus is addressing the intent (and theology) of this law head on by even preforming healings in such a purposefully close way that the halakic Jew would detest Him. We don't always see Jesus miracles as political statements, but they are intended at times to promote controvercy.

Also, since Jesus was a devote Jew, he would have kept the Levitical laws very strictly. These laws of clean and unclean do not mean sinnful and forgiven. They are like a quarintine measure that has many medical insights that were only discovered in the modern era.

[This message has been edited by Josephus (edited February 01, 2001).]
Old 02-01-2001, 01:22 PM   #5
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Almost forgot,

"defile a man" is not a medical designation. It is a legal/religious status designation.
Old 02-01-2001, 01:24 PM   #6
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Jesus did address many other Jewish oral laws and for all practical purposes, spit on them and walked all over them.
Old 02-09-2001, 06:36 AM   #7
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Jesus WAS a product of his time, but went a bit further. Purity codes of first-century Judaism were about boundaries and limits and, although many were obviously hygenically-based, they were often used to exclude certain groups from certain other groups and practices within Jewish culture.

Jesus openly broke these boundaries, inciting controversy and eventually his own death.

The author or authors of the Gospel of John were products of their time as well (about 100 years after the crucifixion). John insists on seeing Jesus as Lord of the Universe. In John, Jesus cannot be bothered to exorcise anyone or even speak in parables but talks in long dense theological monologues mainly about himself and the importance of believing in him.

Most 20th Century Christianity sees Jesus through this lens of John, unfortunately, and the Galilean sage can become lost in the translation. And of course things aren't helped by some whacko holding up "John 3:16" in the endzone of every Sunday football game either!

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